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Legal Information: Tribal

Tribal Law

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March 12, 2010

How will child custody issues be handled?

It depends. Custody is very complicated and we recommend that you contact a lawyer to find out how custody will be handled in your case.

Generally, if either of the parents/legal guardians or the child is a tribal member, that tribe will have jurisdiction over the case. It is important to find out if the Court that has jurisdiction over the case is of the same tribe as the family members involved. Non-member Indians are treated differently than member Indians for purposes of jurisdiction in civil cases.

Note: Custody matters involving Indian children are sometimes subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which is a Federal Statute governing the placement of Indian Children who are in any out-of-home placement, voluntary or involuntary, by any state, county, city or government. The act applies to all public or private agencies that remove or place children.

For more information on the ICWA and how it works, please visit one of the following websites: